Fashion writer Anston Broadway gives his intake on the fashion brought on the popular show, Pose.
For three groundbreaking seasons, those three words echoed across our screens in the form of raw, unbridled television performances. Those performances were not merely an act but authentic expressions coming from a community whose stories were shunned by mainstream society.
That is until they weren’t.
Pose was one of few shows to embrace its queerness while showcasing on a mainstream platform. The 1991 documentary Paris Is Burning, and the collective lives of many LGBTQ+ and gender non-conforming persons of color in the 1980s and 90s inspired the show. Everything from the terminology, dancing, and voguing on the ballroom floors highlighted a community of individuals who were comfortable in their skin. Despite the setbacks in their lives, the characters were dying to grace confidence amongst others.
For every outlet of expression that Pose brought to the forefront, fashion is arguably the most impactful. Fashion has long been a staple of the human experience, and the trans and queer communities are no exception. Each performer on Pose showcased their talents and memorable performances with fashion-forward clothes, makeup, and overall aesthetic that brought visual depth to the characters. Pose brought a well-rounded showcase of the transgender and queer experience into mainstream society.
In light of the series finale, it is only suitable to bask in the fashion moments that made Pose a series to die for. Every outfit represented here (in my humble opinion) is one that loudly captured a character’s personality and their respective storyline progression on the show. Some of these outfits may dazzle you, while others may inspire you in your fashion journey. All of these outfits have in common the ability to let the one who is wearing the wearing feel openly in touch with their spirit.
Character(s): House of Abundance
Outfit(s): Royal Regalia
The fashion-savvy of the Pose characters was evident from the show’s very first episode. The legendary House of Abundance, fronted by Miss Elektra Abundance, fronted in royal regalia that captured each character’s personality. More so, however, these outfits symbolized the high-class aspirations that so many LGBTQ+ and non-conforming persons of color had and still have to this very day.
Character: Elektra Abundance/Wintour
Outfit: Pink puff sleeve dress with gold embellishments and a mini cage attached
A very poetic moment indeed! Marie Antonette, the former Queen of France known for her extravagant lifestyle and control over the french monarchy before her beheading, was the perfect inspiration for the festivities of this scene. Elektra, the victim of a verbal beheading by MC Pray Tell for missing an AIDS awareness protest, was always known for her high-fashion fantasies and larger-than-life presence, and this outfit, accompanied with the scene, created a truly iconic moment from the series.
Outfit: White cone bustier with a blue blazer with pinstripes and suit trousers to match
This outfit was all about Candy making a statement, an ode to Madonna’s Jean-Paul Gaultier bustier for her 1990 Blonde Ambition tour. Candy’s character, known for being the butt of jokes in-and-out of the ballroom, needed a fashion moment to cement her willingness to stand out and become a legend. Madonna, whose single Vogue had brought ballroom culture worldwide, was the perfect source of inspiration for Candy to display her confidence, even when it came with a guaranteed rebuttal.
Character: Angel Evangelista
Outfit: Black ruffle one-piece top with a silver cape dress and a floral head wreath
The character of Angel Evangelista endured multiple hardships throughout her life journey. However, from failed relationships to street hustling to drug addiction, none of those things could diminish her beautiful spirit. This particular moment offered a glimpse of Angel at her most optimistic, as she stood on top of a building with the sun in clear view, her cape blowing in the wind, and the low angle shooting alluding that she was “on top of the world,” where she truly belonged.
Character: Pray Tell
Outfit: Gold sequin gown with a risque slit and green feather throw
Many drag queens look to trailblazing female celebrities for fashion inspiration, and this look from Pray Tell was no exception. An ode to the legendary Diana Ross, this look embodied the glamour of 70s disco chic while staying true to Pray Tell’s knack for show-stealing flamboyance. 10s ACROSS THE BOARD, indeed.
Character: Blanca Evangelista
Outfit: Corset dress with ruffled sleeves, an embellished choker necklace, and rhinestone drop earrings
A look that really brought home the fairy godmother archetype that the Blanca character resembled, this outfit from the series finale encapsulated what Blanca had become. For all the hardships that the characters on Pose endured, no one was willing to heal the deep wounds of her family and community more than Blanca. In a way, it’s safe to say that Blanca’s soft, motherly nature has transcended her community on-screen, becoming a mother figure for television viewers who clung to her character for emotional and spiritual support. This outfit from Blanca was just the icing-on-the-cake for a character that impacted a world beyond the one that even she knew.